The upcoming polls in JK will be held perhaps under a compulsion as centre has to deploy forces for Lok Sabha elections next year and can’t afford to keep almost 300 companies in JK for a longer period. The centre wants to clear the baggage of holding local bodies and panchayat polls in the troubled state despite clear threat by militants and boycott by major pro India parties and also by the Resistance Leadership comprising Syed Ali Geelani, Mirwaiz Umar Farooq and Muhammad Yasin Malik.
Apart from 300 additional companies of forces which means over 30,000 troopers, 20,000 policemen, will remain deployed for the conduct of smooth polls.
Apart from this there will be army deployment too in the sensitive areas like South Kashmir districts where militancy is at its peak with almost 200 militants 90 percent of whom are locals. In north Kashmir there are some 103 militabts active of which not more than 20 are locals according to top police sources. A top police officer told (KNO) that it’s after seven years panchayat polls will be held while as ULB polls are being held after 10 years. The chief electoral officer JK Shaleen Kabra has announced dates for polls — ULB polls from October and panchayat polls from November, both in phases.
” Centre is keen to hold elections as 2019 is very crucial as Lok Sabha polls are slated from mid year and it won’t be feasible for the GoI to send troops to JK. So the decesion to retain the forces already deployed for Amanath Yartra was taken,” said a BJP leader from New Delhi. IG CRPF Ravideep Sahi said there are major challenges for the upcoming polls – to identify secure polling stations and to deal with the possible militant threat. ” We are busy in a hectic exercise along with the police and other agencies for ensuring peaceful atmosphere,” he said. “LAW and order is also a challenge and we have to manage deployment as per the sensitivities of areas.” A source said that army has been kept at a beck and call to meet any sort of eventuality.
What remains to be seen is what would be the poll percentage as major political parties like National Conference, PDP and the Congress have decided to stay away from the poll process citing assault on the article 35 A. “These polls seem to be a compulsion for New Delhi rather than a necessity,” said a NC leader.